SC rejects Chidambaram’s plea, says grant of anticipatory bail would hamper investigation
Chidambaram is facing probe in cases registered by the CBI and the ED pertaining to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when he was the Union finance minister.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the appeal of Congress leader P Chidambaram against the Delhi High Court order rejecting his anticipatory plea in the INX Media case being probed by Enforcement Directorate (ED) saying that grant of anticipatory bail plea would definitely “hamper” effective investigation.
A bench of Justice R Banumathi and Justice AS Bopanna refused to extend protection from arrest by ED to Chidambaram and stated grant of anticipatory bail at the stage of investigation may frustrate the investigating agency in interrogating the accused and in collecting useful information and also the “materials” which might have been “concealed”.
“Success in such interrogation would elude if the accused knows that he is protected by the order of the court. Grant of anticipatory bail, particularly in economic offences, would definitely hamper the effective investigation. Having regard to the materials said to have been collected by the respondent-Enforcement Directorate and considering the stage of the investigation, we are of the view that it is not a fit case to grant anticipatory bail,” they said.
The apex court said that refusal to grant anticipatory bail would not amount to denial of the rights conferred upon the appellant under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
INX media case: P Chidambaram’s lawyer Kapil Sibal says in Court, “As far as CBI is concerned why should I (P Chidambaram) be sent to judicial custody? They’ve asked all questions. I’m willing to go to ED’s custody. I should not be sent to judicial custody.”
— ANI (@ANI) September 5, 2019
“Ordinarily, arrest is a part of the process of the investigation intended to secure several purposes. There may be circumstances in which the accused may provide information leading to discovery of material facts and relevant information. Grant of anticipatory bail may hamper the investigation,” it said.
The bench said that a pre-arrest bail is to strike a balance between the individual’s right to personal freedom and the right of the investigating agency to interrogate the “accused as to the material so far collected and to collect more information which may lead to recovery of relevant information.”
The apex court stated that interrogation, questions and answers given by the accused are part of the of the investigation which is “purely” within the domain of the investigation officer.
“Interrogation of the accused and the answers elicited from the accused and the opinion whether the answers given by the accused are “satisfactory” or “evasive” is purely within the domain of the investigating agency and the court cannot substitute its views by conducting mini trial at various stages of the investigation,” it said.
The bench also said that it cannot interfere with the investigation unless the police officer has improperly and illegally exercised his investigating powers in breach of any statutory provision.
“In the present case, no direction could be issued to the respondent to produce the transcripts of the questions put to the appellant and answers given by the appellant. However, the court must also keep in view that a criminal offence is not just an offence against an individual, rather the larger societal interest is at stake,” the court stated in its judgment.
“Therefore, a delicate balance is required to be established between the two rights – safeguarding the personal liberty of an individual and the societal interest,” it added.
On Tuesday, the apex court had ordered maintenance of status quo in the case and directed that the CBI custody of Chidambaram be extended till September 5. The ED is also seeking his custodial interrogation related to money-laundering allegations.
The CBI had on Tuesday filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court, requesting it not to entertain the petition filed by Chidambaram challenging his CBI custody, as it would set a “bad precedent”.
Chidambaram, who was arrested by CBI on August 21, had challenged the order given by the trial court of sending him to the CBI custody.
Chidambaram is facing probe in cases registered by the CBI and the ED pertaining to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when he was the Union finance minister. (ANI)